CUS Facilitator(s): Dr. Nicole West-Burns, Jeff Kugler
Cluster Facilitator(s): Sophia Dixon, Francesca Capano
The 2010 – 2011 work with the Bala Cluster involved working closely with Cluster facilitators to provide support two teachers from every cluster school in a monthly meeting, specifically looking at issues related to understanding Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy (CRRP) and all that this School Services Division 8 entails. The program was hosted by George Syme Community School. The focus of the sessions was to explore the understandings of CRRP in terms of curriculum, noting that the students’ lives, interests, cultures and needs should be the basis for curriculum development, and that this work can meet Ontario Ministry of Education Expectations. The teachers this year specifically requested more focus on learning about the biases and dispositions that impact their teaching, and thus several sessions engaged participants in Conversation Café’s, and other formats to allow space for “difficult” conversations. The sessions this year included half of the same participants from last year’s group, as well as new participants. Second-year teacher participants reported that several of them had returned to their schools in Fall 2010, started difficult/controversial conversations, and shared teaching practices from last year’s sessions. In the final session in May 2011, several participants reported that they had too many “aha” moments to count, and that the Cluster sessions had impacted their thinking. One teacher wrote that when she began the sessions, “critical consciousness was not even on the radar” when she thought about what to teach or how to teach. The Teaching and Learning Coaches for this Cluster will continue to support the teachers in taking what they learn back to their respective schools.